Allahabad HC stays conviction of Congress leader Raj Babbar in 1996 assault case

Read Time: 07 minutes


A Lucknow MP/MLA court in July 2022 had convicted Babbar in a 1996 case involving the assault on a polling officer

The Allahabad High Court on March 29 ordered the conviction of Bollywood actor and Congress leader Raj Babbar in a 1996 case involving the assault on a polling officer to remain stayed/suspended/in abeyance till pendency of Babbar's plea to set-aside the conviction order. 

The bench of Justice Mohammad Faiz Alam Khan passed the order in a plea moved by Babbar under Section 389(2) CrPC.

A Lucknow MP/MLA court in July 2022 had sentenced Babbar to two years in prison in this case.

The case dates back to the year 1996 when one polling officer Shri Krishna Singh Rana filed a report at City's Wazirganj police station against many people, including Raj Babbar alleging that Babbar, who was the then candidate for parliamentary elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket in Lucknow, with his supporters entered the polling place on May 2, 1996 and assaulted people on duty.

Following an investigation, a chargesheet was filed in court against Raj Babbar and co-accused Arvind Yadav under sections 143, 332, 353, 323, 504, 188 IPC, Representation of the People Act, and 7 Criminal Law Amendment Act.

The Lucknow MP/MLA court had held Babbar guilty of for assaulting government officers and preventing them from discharging their official duty. The court had also imposed a fine of Rs 6,500 on him.

Before the high court, Babbar's counsel argued that due to a tainted investigation stemming from a false FIR, insufficient evidence was presented against him and despite unreliable witnesses and lack of cogent evidence, he was convicted by the trial court.

They highlighted the testimony of two star witnesses of the case namely Krishna Singh Rana (Informant) and Shiv Kumar Singh where they stated that Babbar was not involved in the alleged assault.

Babbar's counsel asserted that his Party is seriously considering him for candidature for the upcoming Parliamentary General Elections-2024 and if the conviction part of the judgment of the trial court is not stayed, he would be deprived of his constitutional right to participate in the General Election, without any fault of him.

On the other hand, the plea was opposed by the counsel for the State Government who argued that the standard of 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' was achieved in the trial court proceedings therefore, no illegality had been done by the trial court in convicting Babbar. 

The high court took into account the testmonies of the two star witnesses and noted that they were not assaulted by Babbar and in fact he had intervened to rescue them and resolve the matter peacefully.

"However, the trial court appears to have convicted the applicant under Section 143 I.P.C. ignoring the evidence of the injured witnesses," court said.

Moreover, the high court highlighted that it was surprising that while convicting Babbar under Section 143 IPC for being part of an unlawful assembly, the trial court, without framing any charge under Section 149 IPC, convicted him for committing substantive offenses under Sections 323, 353, and 332 IPC.

The court chose not to delve further into the specifics of the case, stating that such exploration might tilt the balance of appeal in favour of either party. Nevertheless, it expressed the belief that the trial court ought to have thoroughly weighed the evidence presented by the two injured parties.

Therefore, while granting an opportunity to file counter affidavit/objections to the State, having regard to the urgency shown by Babbar, which court found to be genuine, it stayed/suspended his conviction during the pendency of his application.

The matter will be next heard on May 1, 2024. 

Case Title: Raj Babbar v. State of UP